2019 ZiPS Projections – Toronto Blue Jays

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for more than half a decade. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Batters

This is a bit awkward, as the most interesting Blue Jays batters essentially sit in the Bench and Prospects section. Probably the starkest difference between ZiPS and Steamer comes in the form of Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., who has such an unhappy projection from ZiPS that I went back and ran it a second time to make sure I hadn’t goofed anything. From his minor league hit data, ZiPS doesn’t think Gurriel will be able to maintain his minor-league BABIP. And the poor defensive projection isn’t just ZiPS overreacting to Gurriel’s fairly poor BIS and UZR defensive numbers; as rudimentary as even play-by-play minor league defensive measures are, Gurriel’s estimates come in below-average there as well.

The larger problem with the Blue Jay offense is that ZiPS essentially sees little upside remaining among the established players. Tulowitzki and Donaldson were both gone, and while they weren’t stars in 2018 by any stretch of the imagination (and Tulo didn’t even get in a game), they at least represented the possibility of star-level performance going into 2018. Smoak’s 2017 was probably his high-water mark and he’s now a designated hitter on the wrong side of 30, while Devon Travis is another year further away from when he looked like he could be a borderline star. Toronto was 10th in the AL in runs scored in 2018, but outside of the admittedly super-exciting addition of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., I just don’t see much of a hope for this unit doing much more than last year.

Pitchers

ZiPS isn’t completely down on Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, again seeing them as the most valuable pitchers on the staff, but you’d be a big dirty liar if you said you felt anywhere near as sunny about the pair as you did in any other preceding winter. Stroman’s command recovered somewhat after a miserable April and a six-week stint on the DL with shoulder fatigue, but his stuff looked as bland as boiled celery and the team shut him down after late-season blister issues. Given the trade rumors buzzing around Stroman, the right-hander may not even be in Toronto come April, and the possible in-house replacements are less than exciting. Sanchez and Stroman are also both groundballers on a team that doesn’t look to have particularly good infield defense.

The projected rotation just gets weaker from there. The Jays have been unable to effectively replace what Marco Estrada gave the team in 2015-2016 and now need to replace J.A. Happ’s performance as well. Realistically, Toronto needs to sign two mid-rotation starters in free agency to be in contention, something it doesn’t look like they’re planning to do. The original plan was for the team to contend while rebuilding, staying relevant until Vladito ‘n’ Friends made the majors, but this team looks more like the 2018 Orioles (coming into the season, that is) than it does even just a serious wild card contender.

To prove that I’m not being facetious, the little depth chart graphic for the O’s pitching going into 2018 gave Baltimore more projected pitching wins than ZiPS is giving the Blue Jays now.

Bench and Prospects

Now we get to the fun part! There was once an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that took place on a planet of people who had been made impotent by some magic god-computer-robot that ran the planet. So to continue to develop their future prospects, they kidnapped the children from the Enterprise to replace themselves. The Jays farm system looks a lot like that, with the children of Vladimir Guerrero, Craig Biggio, Dante Bichette, Griffin Conine, and Dwight Smith all prospects. And of the real kind, not the Craig Griffey variety. And that’s just off the top of my head; perhaps I’m forgetting that Logan Warmoth is actually related to Mothra or something. I’m not sure which prospect is Wesley Crusher.

A lot of the farm system’s ranking is due to Guerrero, and while the Blue Jays will get some good players out of this group, I don’t think it’s deep enough to solve most of the team’s long-term roster issues, as in the case of the Padres or Braves, who have high-end prospects but also a quantity of other interesting minor leaguers who Toronto can’t match.

I don’t remember what happened in that episode of Star Trek. I’ll guess the people on the planet blew up their home because they were tired of Wesley. Toronto’s not that bad yet. But I think we’re a few months from the team dropping the pretense of contending-while-rebuilding, and even more aggressively shopping their veterans.

One pedantic note for 2019: for the WAR graphic, I’m using FanGraphs’ depth chart playing time, not the playing time ZiPS spits out, so there will be occasional differences in WAR totals.

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here at site.

Batters – Counting Stats
Player B Age PO G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. R 20 3B 114 441 67 127 25 2 19 70 42 68 4 3
Randal Grichuk R 27 RF 141 476 70 116 31 3 29 78 33 157 4 2
Kevin Pillar R 30 CF 145 539 66 140 35 2 13 54 23 96 14 4
Justin Smoak B 32 1B 147 451 60 105 24 1 24 71 64 140 0 1
Danny Jansen R 24 C 111 382 51 93 22 1 10 47 40 75 4 1
Bo Bichette R 21 SS 131 549 70 138 35 5 14 66 38 131 20 9
Russell Martin R 36 C 94 312 44 66 12 0 12 38 49 95 1 3
Yangervis Solarte B 31 3B 122 452 51 115 25 1 15 64 31 67 1 2
Kevin Smith R 22 SS 121 509 59 115 26 2 17 62 27 157 16 5
Cavan Biggio L 24 2B 123 457 58 91 17 3 15 55 62 179 11 7
Santiago Espinal R 24 SS 125 490 53 120 19 3 7 39 30 89 9 5
Jonathan Davis R 27 CF 132 484 58 104 22 4 10 45 40 139 18 6
Kendrys Morales B 36 DH 125 434 50 108 19 0 20 68 41 103 1 1
Teoscar Hernandez R 26 LF 135 498 70 117 27 4 22 65 42 165 11 7
Billy McKinney L 24 RF 126 450 54 103 23 6 15 51 40 132 2 2
Rowdy Tellez L 24 1B 137 483 60 120 28 0 19 66 39 117 5 3
Reese McGuire L 24 C 102 344 38 78 16 2 8 36 29 87 3 3
Devon Travis R 28 2B 109 405 50 105 24 2 11 50 20 77 4 2
Dwight Smith Jr. L 26 LF 120 427 50 102 24 2 10 45 39 95 8 4
Brandon Drury R 26 3B 118 414 43 99 25 1 10 44 33 111 2 2
Lourdes Gurriel R 25 SS 121 464 54 115 22 1 14 58 23 101 6 5
Eric Sogard L 33 2B 95 261 29 59 12 1 2 18 28 51 5 2
Luke Maile R 28 C 78 239 24 48 12 1 4 24 20 69 1 0
Anthony Alford R 24 CF 112 394 44 80 17 1 7 33 33 143 14 7
Dalton Pompey B 26 RF 81 294 36 64 12 1 7 25 27 91 13 3
Jason Leblebijian R 28 3B 103 378 42 77 14 2 12 41 29 150 5 4
Gift Ngoepe B 29 SS 85 259 27 43 11 2 6 23 27 124 2 3
Darnell Sweeney B 28 2B 108 382 44 81 17 3 11 42 34 143 9 8
Joshua Palacios L 23 CF 121 505 52 114 21 4 7 46 35 151 10 9
Richard Urena L 23 SS 134 483 44 108 24 3 7 44 23 122 4 4
Connor Panas L 26 RF 106 380 40 75 13 2 12 39 25 129 3 3
Forrest Wall L 23 CF 124 500 59 114 19 5 10 46 41 150 25 13
Roemon Fields L 28 CF 111 407 39 87 10 3 2 24 26 110 25 12
Max Pentecost R 26 C 82 328 32 69 12 1 9 35 13 105 1 1
Juan Kelly L 24 1B 115 422 46 86 20 2 12 46 38 150 3 3
Ian Parmley L 29 RF 69 217 19 43 5 2 1 13 11 69 4 2
Andrew Guillotte R 26 LF 113 398 41 80 16 1 4 27 31 107 10 7

Batters – Rate Stats
Player BA OBP SLG OPS+ ISO BABIP RC/27 Def WAR No. 1 Comp
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. .288 .352 .483 123 .195 .305 6.4 -4 2.7 Bobby Doerr
Randal Grichuk .244 .300 .504 112 .261 .300 5.4 5 2.4 Keith Williams
Kevin Pillar .260 .295 .404 87 .145 .295 4.5 9 2.1 Garry Maddox
Justin Smoak .233 .329 .450 109 .217 .282 5.2 2 1.8 Roy Smalley
Danny Jansen .243 .332 .385 94 .141 .279 4.6 -2 1.6 Gregg Zaun
Bo Bichette .251 .302 .410 90 .158 .307 4.5 -3 1.5 Robin Yount
Russell Martin .212 .330 .365 89 .154 .263 4.0 1 1.4 Rick Dempsey
Yangervis Solarte .254 .306 .414 93 .159 .270 4.5 -2 1.0 David Bell
Kevin Smith .226 .270 .385 75 .159 .293 3.8 4 1.0 Tommy Whiteman
Cavan Biggio .199 .297 .348 74 .149 .289 3.4 7 1.0 Dan Cholowsky
Santiago Espinal .245 .292 .339 71 .094 .287 3.5 6 0.9 Ramon Martinez
Jonathan Davis .215 .288 .339 69 .124 .281 3.5 8 0.9 Matt Rundels
Kendrys Morales .249 .317 .431 100 .182 .283 4.9 0 0.9 Not That Frank Thomas
Teoscar Hernandez .235 .298 .438 96 .203 .305 4.5 0 0.9 Scott Lydy
Billy McKinney .229 .295 .407 88 .178 .290 4.2 5 0.8 Matt Bowser
Rowdy Tellez .248 .306 .424 95 .176 .291 4.6 2 0.8 Daryle Ward
Reese McGuire .227 .292 .355 74 .128 .281 3.5 2 0.7 Gregg Zaun
Devon Travis .259 .298 .410 89 .151 .297 4.4 -3 0.7 Jerry Adair
Dwight Smith Jr. .239 .304 .375 83 .136 .286 4.0 4 0.5 Ryan McGuire
Brandon Drury .239 .301 .377 82 .138 .304 4.0 -2 0.4 Jamie D’Antona
Lourdes Gurriel .248 .288 .390 81 .142 .289 3.9 -6 0.2 Rey Quinones
Eric Sogard .226 .304 .303 66 .077 .274 3.2 3 0.2 Dan Rohn
Luke Maile .201 .267 .310 56 .109 .265 2.8 3 0.1 Bill Dobrolsky
Anthony Alford .203 .275 .305 57 .102 .299 2.8 7 0.0 Julian Martinez
Dalton Pompey .218 .288 .337 69 .119 .291 3.6 3 0.0 Rashad Eldridge
Jason Leblebijian .204 .266 .347 64 .143 .301 3.0 2 -0.2 Seth Bynum
Gift Ngoepe .166 .249 .293 47 .127 .287 2.2 4 -0.3 Paul Hoover
Darnell Sweeney .212 .278 .359 71 .147 .307 3.2 -4 -0.5 Dan DeMent
Joshua Palacios .226 .280 .325 64 .099 .308 3.0 1 -0.6 Rod Myers
Richard Urena .224 .257 .329 57 .106 .285 2.9 1 -0.6 Gary Miller-Jones
Connor Panas .197 .260 .337 60 .139 .264 2.9 5 -0.7 Garrick Haltiwanger
Forrest Wall .228 .292 .346 72 .118 .306 3.5 -9 -0.7 Ethan Faggett
Roemon Fields .214 .265 .268 46 .054 .288 2.5 6 -0.7 Chad Durham
Max Pentecost .210 .243 .335 55 .125 .280 2.8 -4 -0.9 Johnny Cuevas
Juan Kelly .204 .272 .346 66 .142 .285 3.1 1 -1.0 Kevin Burns
Ian Parmley .198 .239 .253 34 .055 .286 2.0 4 -1.0 Jay Sitzman
Andrew Guillotte .201 .265 .276 48 .075 .265 2.4 7 -1.3 Doug Livingston

Pitchers – Counting Stats
Player T Age W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO
Marcus Stroman R 28 9 7 4.08 24 24 139.0 144 63 13 43 104
Aaron Sanchez R 26 6 6 4.17 24 24 127.3 124 59 11 60 98
Ryan Borucki L 25 9 10 4.81 28 28 151.7 166 81 21 53 108
Matt Shoemaker R 32 6 6 4.48 17 17 90.3 94 45 14 26 82
Trent Thornton R 25 8 9 4.80 25 22 123.7 139 66 21 28 96
Mike Hauschild R 29 7 8 4.73 22 21 110.3 120 58 13 47 84
Ken Giles R 28 2 2 3.49 63 0 59.3 55 23 6 16 70
Sean Reid-Foley R 23 10 12 4.92 29 29 142.7 144 78 22 67 137
Jacob Waguespack R 25 6 6 4.48 31 16 96.3 102 48 9 48 72
Ryan Tepera R 31 5 4 3.92 63 0 62.0 56 27 7 24 62
Marco Estrada R 35 8 10 4.99 26 26 140.7 146 78 23 49 107
David Paulino R 25 2 2 4.27 16 10 52.7 53 25 8 15 50
Tyler Clippard R 34 4 3 4.05 66 0 60.0 52 27 9 24 69
Clayton Richard L 35 7 8 4.89 25 22 130.7 152 71 18 42 86
T.J. Zeuch R 23 8 10 5.13 25 25 133.3 153 76 19 43 73
Tim Mayza L 27 4 4 4.21 54 0 62.0 58 29 7 31 65
Jake Petricka R 31 2 2 4.22 52 0 59.7 65 28 6 19 43
Patrick Murphy R 24 6 8 5.18 26 25 128.7 138 74 16 62 86
Sam Gaviglio R 29 6 8 5.26 28 26 137.0 155 80 26 36 101
Joe Biagini R 29 7 8 4.85 51 13 105.7 116 57 14 36 75
Danny Barnes R 29 4 4 4.42 55 0 57.0 56 28 8 20 55
Justin Shafer R 26 5 5 4.50 53 0 62.0 62 31 5 32 45
Sam Moll L 27 2 2 4.24 40 0 46.7 50 22 5 17 36
Zach Stewart R 32 4 5 5.23 19 14 82.7 96 48 13 30 51
Travis Bergen L 25 3 3 4.41 33 0 32.7 32 16 4 14 30
Elvis Luciano R 19 3 4 5.12 11 10 45.7 51 26 5 24 24
Conor Fisk R 27 3 4 4.61 47 1 70.3 75 36 9 25 49
Murphy Smith R 31 3 4 5.18 30 7 66.0 76 38 9 27 40
Rhiner Cruz R 32 2 2 4.78 29 0 32.0 30 17 3 22 33
Mark Leiter R 28 2 3 4.83 47 0 59.7 62 32 10 23 55
Hector Perez R 23 4 5 5.40 27 18 100.0 98 60 12 84 96
Thomas Pannone L 25 4 6 5.47 22 18 98.7 110 60 20 36 79
Danny Young L 25 1 2 4.79 42 0 56.3 60 30 6 26 37
Julian Merryweather R 27 5 7 5.50 18 16 86.7 103 53 16 27 62
Zach G. Jackson R 24 2 3 4.97 45 0 54.3 46 30 4 55 60
Corey Copping R 25 3 3 4.83 47 0 63.3 61 34 7 42 62
Shawn Morimando L 26 6 9 5.58 22 21 109.7 130 68 18 47 73
Matt Tracy L 30 3 4 5.62 18 12 64.0 75 40 11 28 42
Taylor Guerrieri R 26 3 4 5.56 28 12 79.3 92 49 14 31 51
Jake Fishman L 24 2 3 5.02 43 0 52.0 56 29 9 12 40
Craig Breslow L 38 1 2 5.49 39 0 41.0 45 25 6 22 31
Brandon Cumpton R 30 3 4 5.72 14 8 50.3 61 32 8 20 29
Yennsy Diaz R 22 6 8 5.70 25 24 118.3 130 75 18 67 85
Jon Harris R 25 7 11 5.74 26 26 131.7 158 84 25 43 80
David Garner R 26 2 3 6.19 29 0 36.3 40 25 7 25 33
Justin Dillon R 25 4 7 6.04 23 13 82.0 98 55 16 35 45
Luis Santos R 28 4 7 6.10 32 12 87.0 100 59 20 35 74

Pitchers – Rate Stats
Player TBF K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP ERA+ ERA- FIP WAR No. 1 Comp
Marcus Stroman 596 6.73 2.78 0.84 .303 105 95 3.86 2.1 Willard Nixon
Aaron Sanchez 560 6.93 4.24 0.78 .292 103 97 4.24 1.8 Blue Moon Odom
Ryan Borucki 670 6.41 3.15 1.25 .302 89 112 4.73 1.1 Thomas Biko
Matt Shoemaker 389 8.17 2.59 1.39 .304 96 105 4.35 1.0 Brian Lawrence
Trent Thornton 536 6.99 2.04 1.53 .307 89 112 4.65 0.9 Tim Kester
Mike Hauschild 497 6.85 3.83 1.06 .309 91 110 4.63 0.9 Don Schwall
Ken Giles 246 10.62 2.43 0.91 .320 119 84 2.96 0.9 Darren Holmes
Sean Reid-Foley 636 8.64 4.23 1.39 .303 87 115 4.79 0.9 Darin Blood
Jacob Waguespack 438 6.73 4.48 0.84 .307 93 108 4.55 0.8 Don Stanhouse
Ryan Tepera 267 9.00 3.48 1.02 .290 109 91 4.02 0.7 Tom Hume
Marco Estrada 608 6.85 3.14 1.47 .288 86 116 4.84 0.7 Mike Moore
David Paulino 225 8.54 2.56 1.37 .302 100 100 4.25 0.7 Hector Fajardo
Tyler Clippard 254 10.35 3.60 1.35 .287 106 95 4.10 0.6 Steve Bedrosian
Clayton Richard 582 5.92 2.89 1.24 .312 85 118 4.73 0.6 Mark Redman
T.J. Zeuch 592 4.93 2.90 1.28 .298 84 120 5.03 0.5 Jason Karnuth
Tim Mayza 274 9.44 4.50 1.02 .304 102 98 4.17 0.5 Brian Snyder
Jake Petricka 261 6.49 2.87 0.91 .311 101 99 4.12 0.4 Frank Linzy
Patrick Murphy 584 6.02 4.34 1.12 .296 83 121 5.06 0.4 Scott Holman
Sam Gaviglio 597 6.64 2.36 1.71 .301 82 123 5.06 0.3 Clay Condrey
Joe Biagini 465 6.39 3.07 1.19 .304 86 117 4.59 0.3 Tommie Sisk
Danny Barnes 245 8.68 3.16 1.26 .300 97 103 4.20 0.3 Guillermo Mota
Justin Shafer 279 6.53 4.65 0.73 .295 95 105 4.49 0.3 Hal Reniff
Sam Moll 205 6.94 3.28 0.96 .310 98 102 4.22 0.3 Jim Crawford
Zach Stewart 372 5.55 3.27 1.42 .304 82 122 5.23 0.2 Dick Fowler
Travis Bergen 144 8.27 3.86 1.10 .298 97 103 4.37 0.2 Chris Marchok
Elvis Luciano 213 4.73 4.73 0.99 .297 84 119 5.43 0.2 Chris Zachary
Conor Fisk 309 6.27 3.20 1.15 .297 90 111 4.66 0.2 Mike Proly
Murphy Smith 300 5.45 3.68 1.23 .305 83 121 5.12 0.1 Karl Drews
Rhiner Cruz 148 9.28 6.19 0.84 .307 90 112 4.56 0.0 Moe Burtschy
Mark Leiter 264 8.30 3.47 1.51 .302 89 113 4.84 0.0 Kirk Bullinger
Hector Perez 481 8.64 7.56 1.08 .304 79 126 5.49 0.0 John D’Acquisto
Thomas Pannone 441 7.21 3.28 1.82 .300 78 128 5.46 0.0 Dale Polley
Danny Young 254 5.91 4.15 0.96 .297 87 115 4.77 0.0 Mike Cosgrove
Julian Merryweather 388 6.44 2.80 1.66 .313 78 128 5.23 0.0 Mark Johnson
Zach G. Jackson 263 9.94 9.11 0.66 .298 86 116 5.10 -0.1 Joe Hudson
Corey Copping 293 8.81 5.97 0.99 .303 86 116 4.81 -0.1 Marc Pisciotta
Shawn Morimando 503 5.99 3.86 1.48 .312 77 130 5.40 -0.1 Rich Rundles
Matt Tracy 293 5.91 3.94 1.55 .306 76 131 5.53 -0.1 Roger Deago
Taylor Guerrieri 360 5.79 3.52 1.59 .301 77 130 5.52 -0.2 Eric Stone
Jake Fishman 223 6.92 2.08 1.56 .296 83 121 4.73 -0.2 Roberto Rivera
Craig Breslow 189 6.80 4.83 1.32 .305 78 128 5.30 -0.3 Dave Giusti
Brandon Cumpton 231 5.19 3.58 1.43 .310 73 138 5.43 -0.3 Bennie Daniels
Yennsy Diaz 551 6.46 5.10 1.37 .300 75 133 5.59 -0.3 Brett Laxton
Jon Harris 593 5.47 2.94 1.71 .304 75 134 5.57 -0.4 Jon Asahina
David Garner 174 8.17 6.19 1.73 .311 67 149 6.15 -0.6 Rick Greene
Justin Dillon 377 4.94 3.84 1.76 .297 71 141 6.05 -0.6 Julien Tucker
Luis Santos 394 7.66 3.62 2.07 .307 70 142 5.78 -0.7 Wes Wilkerson

Disclaimer: ZiPS projections are computer-based projections of performance. Performances have not been allocated to predicted playing time in the majors — many of the players listed above are unlikely to play in the majors at all in 2019. ZiPS is projecting equivalent production — a .240 ZiPS projection may end up being .280 in AAA or .300 in AA, for example. Whether or not a player will play is one of many non-statistical factors one has to take into account when predicting the future.

Players are listed with their most recent teams, unless I have made a mistake. This is very possible, as a lot of minor-league signings go generally unreported in the offseason.

ZiPS’ projections are based on the American League having a 4.29 ERA and the National League having a 4.15 ERA.

Players who are expected to be out due to injury are still projected. More information is always better than less information, and a computer isn’t the tool that should project the injury status of, for example, a pitcher who has had Tommy John surgery.

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR — which is to say, WAR values as calculated by me, Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in full release of ZiPS. Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR.

We hoped you liked reading 2019 ZiPS Projections – Toronto Blue Jays by Dan Szymborski!

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Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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Twitchy
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Twitchy

Why are all the Jays catchers of the future compared to Gregg Zaun 🙁 ?